In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), nothing’s ever stagnant. SEO efforts from 10 years ago are mostly irrelevant, and even trends from last year can quickly disappear. With that said, it’s very important to the health of your business’s online presence to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest trends in SEO and search experience. Let’s take a look at what you need to focus on in 2016 and beyond. 

Customer Experience Emphasis

Are customers coming to your site and actually sticking around for a while? If so, search engines will love it. When customers actually utilize the satisfied that you’re pushing out, search engines such as Google and Bing recognize and reward that effort.

A great way to expand on the quality of customer experience on your website is through the utilization of blogging, white papers, and other strong forms of content. Know who you’re writing for, be a thought-leader in your industry, and write influential prose; it’s likely you’ll be rewarded.

Social Surges On

If you’re not active on social media yet, what are you waiting for? Regardless of what industry your business is in, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t at least have a Face book account. No, this doesn’t mean you should create an account for every social network currently in existence; establish a social media presence on platforms that make sense to your brand (a b2b manufacturer probably doesn’t need to waste time creating Pinterest boards).

Once you’re actively posting on social channels, it’s imperative to try and generate dialogue with your customers. These strong social signals are seen by search engines and rewarded with a boost to your overall SEO, as long as you’re addressing all customer complaints, having healthy conversations, and encouraging discussions related to your brand.

Quality Over Keywords

Long-gone are the days of keyword stuffing and keyword density. In 2016, Google and other search engines are focusing on the quality of content over the utilization of keywords. To ensure you’re actually reaching your customers, write for them first, and then search engines. If the quality is there, you don’t need to fret over getting the perfect keywords in X number of times.

Expect Google’s algorithm to continue to fluctuate, with an added emphasis on longer, high-quality content pieces being the driving factor in great search rankings. Still do your keyword research and utilize them when able, but never put the value of keywords over the value of lead-nourishing content.

Pinpointing Your Audience

Understanding your business’s audience is crucial to performing well on search engines and, in general, having a successful online presence. Never jump into writing content without knowing exactly who your audience is, segmenting that audience based on where they’re at in the buyer’s journey, and pinpointing what they want and need from you. If you’re writing for someone in an awareness stage of a buyer’s journey, providing Return on Investment (ROI) calculations might not be the right fit for what they need; consider content that’s more top level to ease the customer into your business such as relatable business insights or customer success stories.

A foolproof way to understand audience is through establishing buyer personas. More often than not, your customers won’t be identical; many will share various traits, however, and can thus be placed under a generalized persona. These personas can be used during the content writing process to effectively target a specific customer.

Visual Is Key

There’s no doubt that people love visuals. Whether it’s an infographic or a video, visual content performs tremendously well on most online platforms. While it’s not necessarily linked to SEO in the general sense of the term, visual content can enhance the customer’s online journey and greatly impact their purchasing decisions. At this time, search engines struggle to understand images and videos, as such making them difficult to add value to your on-page SEO efforts; however, these content alternatives can profoundly and positively impact your overall online presence, especially in a world that’s growing more visual by the second (think Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, and countless other social-visual platforms).

Local Continues To Grow

As more and more online consumers go mobile, so too must businesses both large and small. Expect mobile strategy and local search marketing efforts to skyrocket, especially as wearable technology becomes commonplace. Your customers are no longer sitting at home, analyzing your products and services in the comfort of their home; these online shoppers are constantly on the go, so it’s your job to make them aware of your offerings, regardless of where they’re searching. This can include bolstering your presence on local search directories (and making your citations as consistent as possible), optimizing your Google My Business accounts, and considering highly-targeted social media paid advertising.

As you probably guessed, there’s no shortage of up-and-coming SEO tactics. As long as you’re doing your best to understand your audience, generate quality content, and create healthy user experiences, you’re on the right track when it comes to SEO for your business.